1. This page discusses the role of men in the
Great Mother Tradition. Quite a few people think, that as a man you have to be
"feminine" in order to becoming part of it. Nothing is further from the truth
though. Let's start with history/mythology. In Paleolithic times the "world
view" was matricentric. It means, that the entire society was embedded in the
consciousness of the "Eternal Feminine". Great Mother, goddess, high-priestess,
queen and matrilineage were the key characteristics. The role of the men was subordinate.
Statues and paintings usually portrayed women as creatures of "numinous"
quality, while men more or less appear as incomplete beings. It was the time, in which the
process of procreation was still unknown. It is essential to realize, that - although the
structure of society was (still) based on consensus - an innate inconsistency lay at the
foundation of it: the rule of women over men. At this stage men did not perceive this as
oppression though, despite the fact, that in many regions ritual slaughtering of
"heroes/gods/kings" was practiced. At the same time the goddess started to share
her power with her son/lover. Every year she chose a lover for the "hieros
gamos", a public sex-act, after which her favorite was installed as the god/king for
one season only. He was to be killed in autumn and was supposed to become reborn in
spring, "securing" fertility and harvest. Hence, the name "vegetation
god". Considering the (probably) many thousands of years, that this ritual was
practiced, it is astonishing that every season men offered themselves voluntarily, knowing
in advance, that this honor was a short lasting one. They literally sacrificed themselves
for the sake of the entire community. However controversial in our eyes today, it is
without any doubt, that worship of the "eternal feminine" unleashed the best of
men's qualities: his dedication, sacrifice and his serving of the Whole.
2. Many feminists are stating, that patriarchy
was forcefully imposed by Indo-European tribes from the North on the matrilinear peoples
of the South. I think this is generally true. What they forget to say, however, is that
matriarchal society itself wasn't based on "justice with compassion and
equality" (at all), as one author* has said. It is astonishing, how pronounced those
writers are about the patriarchal oppression, without even mentioning the fate of men in
the time of the goddess. It is like talking about "Athenian democracy" as a
highlight in history, forgetting the position of non-registered people, women, slaves and
foreigners, who were all excluded from the process. Every oppression leads to an inner
dynamism, an attempt of the oppressed to liberate themselves. Thus, apart from invaders,
in matriarchy there was clearly a dynamism from within towards patriarchy as well (a fact
often bluntly denied). And that is exactly what happened. In Pre-Neolithic times, in which
there weren't any invaders yet, male emancipation slowly evolved. They became the consorts
of the goddess/queen, while being still loyal to female supremacy. Again and again we
read, that this or that king received his throne, only because of the goddess' love for
him. Thus, loyalty to the "feminine principle" seems to have been deeply
engraved in male consciousness. Being slaughtered isn't fun though. Sooner or later - with
changing of the world view - even dedicated men started opposing this kind of practice. It
is the essence of the Gilgamesh epic, in which Gilgamesh refuses the "offer" of
becoming the goddess' consort. Instead, he escapes and started his "quest for
immortality"**. Of course, loyalty was about to end with the above-mentioned
invaders, who, from the very beginning started to cruelly destroy the goddess religion up
to this very day. However, throughout history an "underground" movement has
always existed. One revival - as a testimony of the inherent male dedication towards the
feminine - has to be mentioned. It is the European Middle Ages. From the 10th century on
heretics, devotees, women, mystics, artists, monks, nuns, kings, crusaders, (spiritual)
knights and troubadours all shared one thing: their veneration for the (eternal) feminine.
Is it therefore known as the most intense, authentic, creative, passionate, spiritual and
heroic era in Western history?***
* The works of Heide Göttner-Abendroth
** Identification with the Light, with one God
and monotheism, can be (partly) explained by a refusal of men to become "vegetation
gods"anymore. It is the underlying mechanism of both Christianity and Islam. See the
excellent book of Merlin Stone: "The Paradise Papers", 1976 Virago Limited
*** We are well aware of the dark side of this
epoch with its cruelties etc.
3. Although we are at a moment in history,
which can be characterized as the last attempt of patriarchy to rule the world, Western!
society is hardly oppressive to women anymore. Two things have to be realized. When we
talk about "patriarchy" - at least its developments in recent times - it is not
only the dominating system of "white male elite", but also that of its female
counterpart. The aims of feminism, after all, were not at all to overthrow this male
social, political and economical supremacy, but to demand an equal share in it. Its
success became its failure. With the integration e.g. collaboration of women - many of
them being stronger advocates of the system, compared to many men - the system may survive
longer, than without it. Clear (and embarrassing) examples are those
feminists/thealogians/matriarchs, who in theory advocate a new world view, while in
practice pursuing a patriarchal career... These are clearly not good role models. The
waiting is thus for a new generation! It is one of the reasons why many feminists reject
Jungian psychology or psychology as a whole. The theory of animus and anima as opposite
parts in the soul of women and men is revealing too much about the position of the
"silent majority" of women under patriarchy. It shows the psychological, social
and material! benefits for women, through which many lost the motivation to resist the
system, they say they despise*. Isn't it the animus in women, that is the driving force
behind their strivings of becoming equal to men, forgetting their true aim: the liberation
of the feminine? Nowadays women aren't that helpless anymore. Yet, in the West there
hasn't been a comparable action to those Indian or Mexican women, who collectively refused
"sexual and other services" to their men, in order to put their demands through.
Western women are as individualized as men, having lost all sense of solidarity. It
explains the controversies between feminists of the West and those of the Third World. The
reason: the first have become patriarchal, refusing to share their privileges with the
deprived. The situation has thus changed. It is not women against men anymore. The West -
including men and women - has become entirely patriarchal, oppressing the
"feminine cultures" of the rest of the world.
* Apart from that many "orthodox"
feminists don't like the idea of "androgyny", the equal representation of
feminine and masculine qualities in human beings. Instead they cherish a reactionary
nostalgic desire towards pre-historic times of feminine dominance (with men serving them
as fertilizers and protectors).
A distinction has to be made between the
Great Mother and Goddesses. The Great Mother is the Ultimate Reality. She is
All-Embracing: including women and men equally. She cannot be claimed by sectarian groups.
Gods and Goddesses on the other hand are the Sons and Daughters of the Mother. They indeed
can be used as role models for gender emancipation
4. Without denying real suffering of women
today, which of course is still massive in the Third World, on the contrary defending
women's rights and position wherever we can, we want to put forward the thesis, that in
Western society it is the men, that are becoming increasingly vulnerable. (Those women who
"wouldn't mind", have to realize, that the survival of mankind is depending on
the meaningful integration of women and men). The increasing loneliness, isolation,
homelessness, crime, torture, rape, oppression, war, violence, addiction and misbehavior
is most prominent in men*, threatening the security of everyday life. It has to be
realized that males (generally) with their rationalist opposition to life, are more
alienated from the Whole. They have less "subsistence". Hence, they rely more
heavily on identification with social models, roles and functions. They are in a way
"artificial"**. A man is not a man by nature, but through achievement. Women
("generally") on the other hand have more contact with their bodies (pleasure,
menstruation, pregnancy, menopause), feelings, emotions, the house, the family, children,
the community, the earth and the environment, like flowers and animals, yes with life. The
way many women communicate with themselves and others (in the broadest sense) is something
most men will never be able to sense ever. Thus, women (although their fate may be
unbearable), are often able to fall back on a "organic foundation", on their
roots. Additionally, women often prove to be equal or better in those skills, that until
very recently only men excelled in. Hence, in a time in which male dominance is crumbling
down, it is the males that are facing a major crisis: the destruction of their entire
identity. Men feel there is "nothing left for them". Their strength has proved
to be their weakness. Contrary to the above mentioned feminine inherent - biological,
psychological, social (the community), cultural and spiritual - stability, social
categories are changeable. Depending on them as men used to do (and still do), is a
dangerous affair. Loss of identity and violence are two sides of the same coin. The way
out is this. Rather than pursuing individualistic, egoistic and often barbaric power and
money games, which will prove to be (self)destructive, men have to become servants of the
Whole again. The surprise is this. While women are still in the high of pursuing their
(patriarchal) careers, men may decide to develop their "feminine side" e.g.
their anima. The anima is the opening to restoring contact with the body, feelings and the
* What happens, if men are left "to
themselves" is illustrated by the indescribable horror of "civil wars" in
**See also: C. von Werlhof "Männliche
Natur und Künstliches Geschlecht", 1991 Wiener Frauenverlag
5. By the way, our "model" of the
human personality includes a neutral essence - our True Self, our center, which is neither
masculine nor feminine - and the periphery, which includes our male or female bodies and
souls, the latter which contains elements of the opposite sex*. Thus in essence, nobody is
a man or woman. We all are something - which is identical in both men and women - that
transcends both. This is the most fundamental level for solidarity between gender. Gender
is merely a social construct only determining our periphery, not what we "really
are". Gender is not our identity, it is just functionality. Once we are able to
"disconnect" from a certain gender pattern, we are free to identify with
whatever role, mood, emotion or behavior we like. We may come to a situation, in which we
are able to playfully identify with either "feminine" or "masculine"
characteristics. This is the true meaning of androgyny. As has been said above, in this
stage of development, it may be mostly men, who are on this quest. Once they have
discovered, accepted and integrated these oppressed parts, not only their individual lives
will be more fulfilling, but they also may re-connect to the Whole more easily.
Ironically, this effort will prove to be more easy for men, than it is for women. More and
more men are experiencing a "no way out", finding themselves with their backs
against the wall, suffering stress, burn-out, diseases (heart attacks) and disabilities.
Going deep down through the hell of meaninglessness, darkness and nothingness, a spiritual
transformation may take place, with rebirth as the outcome. Women on the other hand, have
just discovered "their playground" in the system, showing a tendency of not
giving up this achievement so easily. There isn't a greater taboo on a new world view,
based on "feminine values", among successful, rich and powerful women nowadays.
They are proud about their achievements and feel horror at the idea of accepting their
"cyclic bio- emotional nature" for instance. Many of them have thus still a long
way to go.
* The paradox is this. Men have to
"overcome" their dependency on the (biological) mother in order to become a
servant of the Great Mother. The steps to be taken are awakening (liberation, finding your
True Self) with subsequent conscious acceptance of rejected parts. After that you have to
fit yourself in into Heaven, earth and the (new) community. Only after being whole again,
you will be able to serve the Whole. The same is true for women, if they really want to
become the bearer of the "eternal feminine". See: "The Integral Way".
6. In the past women identified themselves
with the Mother or the goddess, as an attempt to strengthen their identity and position.
Because of lack of herstory this was quite understandable and very necessary indeed. What
we see today, however, is that certain groups are stubbornly claiming Her as their
exclusive idol, with the aim of creating an aura of superiority around themselves. On the
one hand blaming men for claiming "the god of Israel" or the "Christian
god" for themselves, while on the other hand doing exactly the same with regard to
the Mother. The Great Mother isn't an image, concept or ideal, which you may use for your
own purposes, though. She is nobody's property. On the contrary, She is the Ultimate
Reality - the Cosmic Womb - unimaginable, bottomless, containing the entire universe. In
Her permanent Embrace all "sentient and non-sentient beings" are of absolutely
equal value, nothing excluded. Hence, She is the beginning of a new era, in which women
and men will cooperate for the well-being of all. Of course, several more factors have to
be taken in consideration. F.i. not all men will develop their inner potential e.g. their
anima, their awareness or their inner Divinity. The majority will stay masculine in the
traditional sense of the word. Here lies an educational task for the conscious minority.
The crucial importance of interconnectedness, being rooted (in "Heaven and
earth") and Wholeness has to be elaborated. And how this is symbolized by
"feminine values"; how through the ages masculine effort found its highest
fulfillment in dedicating itself to the "eternal feminine", e.g. how beautiful,
respected and honored a man is, if he decides to serve a noble aim like this once again.
It is through serving the the feminine*, that his best abilities - f.i. strength, vision,
creativity, insight, solidarity, courage, commitment and dedication - will be realized.
The Original Great Mother Tradition facilitates this new development. With the Mother as
the Ultimate Reality men and women may transcend their common identifications, thus
becoming available - in solidarity with each other - to a higher goal. Through
transcendental Motherly Love - "Come all ye unto Me, I Am the All-Embracing One"
- old wounds will be healed. In worshipping the Great Mother, human beings will regain
their true nature. She is promoting the best in all of us, to the benefit of the Whole.
* Serving "feminine values or/and world
view" should not be mixed up by serving concrete women, unless somebody voluntarily
choses to do so. Admiration is only justified, if a particular woman really
embodies e.g. proves to be the bearer of feminine values. (In these patriarchal times
possessing a female body doesn't automatically makes you a woman... ).